Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, and every other Major League Baseball player whose contract is set to expire after this season will still hit free agency if the 2020 campaign is canceled, sources told Ronald Blum of The Associated Press.
MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association are working on reaching an agreement on a broad number of topics related to the postponed campaign, and both sides are developing contingencies should the season not happen at all.
Under the latest proposal, players will reportedly be credited service time identical to what they received in 2019, even if games aren't played. However, those who didn't debut last year - but were expected to join the big-league club in 2020 - won't gain any service time.
Betts - whom the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in February - will hit the open market without playing a single game for his new team if there is no baseball until 2021.
Players generally require six years of major-league service time to become eligible for free agency. To gain a full year of service time, a player needs to be on the active roster for 172 days during the 186-day campaign. However, that won't be the case in the event of a shortened or canceled 2020 season.
Opening Day was originally scheduled for Thursday but has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Talks between the league and union remain ongoing, and an agreement is expected in the coming days.